Supplementary Resources for Nauvoo: Cornerstone of Zion

Nauvoo Visitor Center

The Nauvoo: Cornerstone of Zion exhibit at the Historic Nauvoo Visitors’ Center includes many scriptures, images, and documents. We invite you to explore these and other additional resources below.

The Lord refers to Nauvoo as a “cornerstone of Zion” four times in section 124 of Doctrine and Covenants (see verses 2, 23, 60, and 131).

Joseph Smith: Prophetic Leadership in Nauvoo

“My servant Joseph Smith, … unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:1).

“I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:125).

Click each image to view larger and learn more about the many positions Joseph held in Nauvoo.

Nauvoo: From Prairie Grass Settlement to a Cornerstone of Zion

“This stake … I have planted to be a cornerstone of Zion, which shall be polished with the refinement which is after the similitude of a palace” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:2).

Designing a Temple City

“If they live here let them live unto me; … for they shall rest from all their labors here, and shall continue their works. …
“And hearken unto the counsel of … Joseph, … and unto the authorities which I have called to lay the foundation of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:86, 118).

As can be seen in this city map of Nauvoo (1842), the city was carefully organized. It was designed and laid out to have a temple at its center. Click here to learn more about the city’s design and the Saints’ plans for Nauvoo.

City of Nauvoo Plat Map

Designing the Temple

“And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:42).

Central to building up Nauvoo as a cornerstone of Zion was building a temple. Joseph Smith explained that the Lord showed him the temple in a vision. The architect, William Weeks, helped realize that vision. Thus, the temple’s design took shape as William and Joseph worked together and received revelation for specific details over time. Click here to learn more about William Weeks.

Below are some of William Weeks’s drawings for the temple design on display in the exhibit. Click each image to view larger and learn more.

Consecrated Labor: The Covenant Community Builds the Temple

“If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:44).

Walter Rane, Nauvoo 1842, Consecrated Labor
Walter Rane, Nauvoo 1842, Consecrated Labor (2020)

Restoring Temple Ordinances

Click on the images below to read about the history of each ordinance.

Making Covenants with God

“For it is ordained that in Zion, and in her stakes, … those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for your dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:36).

The Saints patterned the Nauvoo Temple baptismal font after the large washbasin in King Solomon’s temple that rested on the backs of 12 oxen (see 1 Kings 7:23–26).

“Build a house to my name, … that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:55).

“For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:41).

“And send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messengers, and say unto them: Come ye, …
“… and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. …
“… that he may come to and restore again … the fulness of the priesthood” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:26–28).

Ministering with Priesthood Keys

“That from henceforth he shall hold the keys … ,
“That whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; …
“Which Twelve hold the keys to open up the authority of my kingdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:92–93, 128).

Brigham Young taught, “Joseph in his lifetime did not receive everything connected with the doctrine of redemption, … but he has left the key with those who understand how to obtain and teach to this great people all that is necessary for their salvation and exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our God” (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 [2018], 578–79).

Concerning the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith (see Doctrine and Covenants 135).

Before the Exodus: The Covenant Community Worships in the Temple Day and Night

“And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:40).

Walter Rane, Nauvoo 1846, Before the Exodus (2020)
Walter Rane, Nauvoo 1846, Before the Exodus (2020)

Building on the Cornerstone

President Joseph F. Smith’s Vision of the Redemption of the Dead: Doctrine and Covenants 138.

“And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:45).

Preparing for Your Temple Visit

”Prepare for the Temple

Your Endowment, according to Brigham Young

Brigham Young had the following read at the Salt Lake Temple cornerstone laying ceremony about seven years after leaving Nauvoo: “Your endowment … is to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord … to enable you to … gain your eternal exaltation” (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 2, No Unhallowed Hand, 1846–1893 [2020], 174–75).


In the 1840s, the Lord called His Saints to gather, build, and worship inside the Nauvoo Temple. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ restored temple covenants and ordinances connected with salvation and exaltation. Temples today offer these same blessings to all who are willing to receive them.

If you would like to continue learning about the history and legacy of the Nauvoo Temple, we invite you to listen to The Nauvoo Temple: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast. Click here to find all of the episodes in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.